Development in India in an era of globalisation is placing enormous challenges before institutions and individuals.
As an internet empowered citizen, concerned individual, teacher, administrator, journalist, businessperson or student, you want to be informed in depth on public interest matters but are unable to find the right magazine. You want to understand social, political and policy processes as they unfold, but the regular media are too fleeting, and rarely go deep.
You are a practitioner, expert, or professional and want to share your expertise, insight and concerns on public interest matters but are unable to find responsive editors and a publication that is easily accessible to a broad, interested audience.
You are a researcher or expert or concerned individual with a special interest. At times, you are looking for some specific information on public matters and you want to make a quick beginning, pick up a few pointers, and get started with your work. But this isn’t easy with information sources like conventional media.
Print and broadcast commercial media in India are usually short on depth when it comes to consistent coverage of developmental and public interest matters.
If you are an author/writer, editors at major newspapers may often be inaccessible, not responsive (timeliness) and in general may not match your effectiveness parameters. There are many more concerned individuals with specialized knowledge and expertise to share than there are outlets. Worse still, mass publications are sometimes likely to edit your material in such a manner that when it gets published, 'it's not you anymore!'
Development and policy magazines specialize typically in a particular sector (environment, agriculture, etc). Professional journals provide additional means of communicating ideas, but these are restricted in access, unwieldy in formats and requirements, and are often intended for specialist and scholarly audiences only.
Publications on development and policy issues need to focus on processes, not events. Readers must see the process at work, not merely the events playing out. Credible professionals and practitioners must be able offer their expertise as part of a healthy balance between public interest journalism and informed opinion.
Publications on developmental issues must organize their information both for the general readership as well as the specialists without specifically favouring one over the other, so that both types of audiences and contributors can leverage each other in the publication itself. They must encourage interaction.
Editors of such publications must also be the stewards of informative discussions around issues. They must interact with authors to structure and strengthen the material and remove weak arguments. They must recognize that most development issues are inter-linked and leverage the Internet effectively by placing an article in a far more informative context than possible in print.
Why don’t all news publications on the Internet do this? Mass media is not allocating much space for depth because advertisement revenue is key.
Second, commercial media primarily provide news of a perceived immediate utility for a mass audience. Structurally, a single paper/edition is served to millions of readers; Amongst other things, editors base news and topic selection on their perceptions of the common denominators of mass interest. The underlying reporting infrastructure within most news organizations is also better suited to cover events and instant news, and offering only limited analysis. They are simply not geared for regular coverage of developmental processes, except in dealing with the most newsy or controversial issues. What limited in-depth work there is, is found in weekend magazines.
Three, many commercial news organizations believe that their audiences are not interested in policy and development matters. Four, many chief editors remain inaccessible to practitioners, experts and other individuals with specialized knowledge, except to the most popular gurus and select others.
Finally, news organizations are not leveraging the advantages of the Internet, but are merely bringing a portion of their print publication online.
We may be more effective in informing ourselves in depth about public interest matters by seeking out the right publications. We may also use these publications to share our expert insights with the community of the concerned. Readers will thus be able to place informed demands on their policy makers; perhaps some will as a result be able to influence policy as well.
India Together provides information and news on issues that matter to discerning readers. Our stories and articles are categorized over 15 major developmental topics, and also over the states of India. Because of a simple, easy-to-access website and our exclusive focus on the public interest and development, readers go away feeling they’ve been informed by an intense but well-designed magazine. Equally, we help developmental and policy experts, academicians and scholars and leading journalists take their ideas, research and public interest concerns expeditiously to a broad & interested national and global audience.
From a few thousand readers per month in 2001, India Together reached an online readership of 10000 visitors in 2002, peaking at 250,000 in mid-2007 and was counting around 100,000 visitors per month in 2013. Our fortnightly newsletter goes out to over 16,000 subscribers as of December 2013, and is growing every day.
The editors of India Together are ever accessible to authors and readers and interact with them as partners with timeliness and professionalism. Every item on the website is categorized so that specialist readers can access information in their favourite issue pages, while general readers can access the latest from the front pages and regional pages.
It is our continuing goal to ensure that India Together will inform you on development and policy issues with expertise, public interest focus, content packaging, and non-profit operational transparency of the highest standards. ⊕
India Together offers an excellent forum for people from diverse fields of expertise to present their views, share their experiences and raise questions about where our country and society are headed in the future.
I urge all democratic-minded individuals to road, contribute to and publicise the e-newsletters from India Together. All power and success to India Together staff for their excellent and vital contribution to our society!